So what's the point of Mental Health Awareness Week?
Over the last week my inbox has been inundated with requests for contributions for posts and articles promoting Mental Health Awareness, so I felt it was necessary to make my own.
Mental Health Awareness is a subject very close to my heart. The 'invisible' illness has received a varying critique in the media over the last few years, but I can certainly say from a personal perspective that mental health is still often overlooked or demonized in the industry. Mental Health issues are often, unfairly, aligned with unreliability, and remain unquestioned or unaddressed on application forms, meaning that many of the jobs I've been a part of, agents I've had, people i've worked with, would have been completely unaware of my mental health status without my overt communication.
So the question revolves around responsibility-
Should people with mental health issues need to awkwardly find a good time to drop in their various concerns or triggers? Who needs to know? Just the manager/director or the entire cast and crew? What qualifies as a 'good time'?
With 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental health issues, could this awkwardness/pain/anxiety be saved by integrating it as part of the hiring process? Surely Mental Health is an important part of Health and Safety checks?
In my opinion, Mental Health, as something that could be considered a disability,
I'm certainly not damning all the companies/agents/directors i've ever worked for, a fair many of them asked, and a few included Mental Health as a part of their health and safety checks (Collins Collaboration Productions here's looking at you!) , but I do think this is something we should be addressing more widely to encourage diversity within our industry.
Stress can often be a trigger for someones illness, causing anxiety/panic attacks etc, are we really asking those people to just figure out a way to address their mental health issues and needs in front of an entire rehearsal room?
It's something to be considered.
Check out my contribution to Damien Killeen's article on Mental Health Awareness Week in the Queer community, 'What would you say to your Teenage Self?'.